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Charlotte
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Even with the cash pledge, put this in the category of…“believe it when I see it”.


Smith proposes monorail project from Hall of Fame to Speedway

05/24/2005

By JENNA FRYER / Associated Press

Race track mogul Bruton Smith on Tuesday suggested a monorail be built to connect a proposed NASCAR Hall of Fame to Lowe's Motor Speedway, and pledged $50 million of his personal funds to jump-start the effort.

Smith, owner of several NASCAR tracks, envisions the monorail running along current state-owned roads beginning at the downtown Charlotte site that's been proposed for the Hall of Fame. The train would travel into Concord with stops near UNC-Charlotte, University Hospital, the Speedway and Concord Mills shopping center.

In pledging his own money, Smith said he was proving his commitment to get the project started.

"I am not interested in looking down the road to 2010 or something stupid like that," said Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. "I want to get this done now."

But when pressed, Smith admitted he had no idea how much the project would cost, what land would be used, and said he had yet discuss the monorail with Gov. Mike Easley. Smith said the project would need local and state funds to be completed.

By proposing the monorail, Smith was more likely trying to strengthen Charlotte's bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The bidding deadline is May 31, and NASCAR is expected to get strong proposals from Atlanta, Charlotte and Kansas City.

There has been speculation that NASCAR's All-Star race and the Hall of Fame may be lumped together in a package deal, which Smith denied. He has hosted the All-Star race at Lowe's every year but once.

"The All-Star event is staying here. You don't go down to Daytona and talk about moving the Daytona 500, and you don't talk about moving the All-Star race," Smith said.

But NASCAR has been considering rotating the race to different tracks. The sanctioning body and series sponsor Nextel have only offered Lowe's one-year contracts on the race the past few seasons.

Link:
http://www.wcnc.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D8A9QLOO0.html
 

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You've got to give him credit for putting up his own money to get things started and for trying to kick some butt to get action. Most transit projects can be built in way less time than they do but because of money and political factors, they tend to take forever.

I'm not all that sure of the value of having a stop at the speedway. How many large events are there per year and how many of the people attending would use the monorail? If you've already driven 100-300 miles to get there and by the nature of its size, the speedway has plenty of parking, what advantage does the monorail bring?

Of course it the route just happens to be passing by the speedway, why not throw in a station? I'm not familar with the area so maybe there is other use for that station on non-race days (which I assume is that vast majority of the time).
 

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King of the Queen
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throw in an event station. it could also be a big park and ride lot using many of the speedway's surface lots for parking so that people dont have to use the roads to get into charlotte. that's one reason i love that idea.
 

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It's just that the city is already considering light-rail for this exact corridor to run from uptown through noda, uncc etc. With Cabarrus already considering extending the line into thier county why can't he just pay 50 mil towards that expansion. Run the light rail to the speedway and use Mr. Smith's money to pay for part of that. The park and ride lots at the speedway are a great idea kyle.
 

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I just went t the NorthEast LRT line webpage. The city is saying they will offer BRT to Concord Mills from where the line ends (just north of UNCC). It is my honest opinion that if that is the case then the city will offer some sort of BRT to the Speedway during race week from the end of the line as well. So I'm really sure Meck Co nor NC would be willing to shell out any extra money to make this monorail happen. I don't think Bruton was serious though. I think his message was probably to achieve something else 1) to light a fire under the city to build the NE line sooner or 2) to "pretty up" Charlotte's Hall of Fame bid by starting some rumors. But I stand by what I said earlier, Concord and Cabarrus County should try to work with Smith and the state to extend the LRT line into the county through Concord Mills and the Speedway.
 

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I just figured he wanted to put egg on Charlotte's face when they turn down his "gift"....I'm sure he is still pretty bitter about the whole tree fiasco.

If he was really interested in mass transit then he would have offered to contribute $50M toward LRT and the extension to the speedway under the contingency that it be completed within a short time frame.....but then I agree with most. He's not really serious.
 

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I think it's largely a PR stunt... Plus, it's smart business if it works out... I'm sure this guy knows that if this monorail/LRT went through, connecting his track to the museum and DT, that he could then afford to bulldoze some surface parking (since he wouldn't need so many spaces), and put up a couple hotels, and make even more money.
 

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Since the other thread was locked, I'd like to merge its commentary with this one...

i know plenty of people who would take transit from south charlotte to concord mills to save money on that long trip [gas aint cheap, a train ticket is]
I'm sure that would get some ridership on weekends and evenings, but what about 11am on a Tuesday? I assume that this line will run almost all day every day, which seems a bit wasteful considering the Concord area feeds mostly off weekenders from Charlotte.

I think a park n' ride in the area is a fantastic idea, but not good enough to invest that kind of money (think about how many buses could run for $50 million). Unless there's some kind of major new development in this situation, it simply doesn't make sense to put a line out that far.

If anything, it would encourage exurbanization....
 

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King of the Queen
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Park and Ride at Concord Mills is another idea. how many parking spaces does that mall have on a weekday that go unused? if they place the station on the back part of the mall, then that'd leave the front spaces free.
 

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I read what was posted on the other thread and also on this thread, and if this guy thinks that $50 million will get him a monorail, then this is a publicity stunt.
 

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It definitely is partially a publicity stunt (a key tactic in the battle to get Charlotte the HOF), but it is also a substantial amount of money from a private investor that should not be scoffed at. It's rare that an investor steps up with $50 million in hand to jumpstart a project that, if planned right, could really serve the city well.
 
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